- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

Concern in Lebanon
The United States boycotted a ceremony in Lebanon yesterday to express its displeasure about a water project that has led to increased tension with Israel.
A State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. diplomats avoided the inauguration of a pumping station on the Wazzani River because the project is a unilateral action that undermined efforts to reach a settlement in a dispute that Israel warned could lead to war.
The river feeds the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main source of water. Lebanon says the project was needed to provide water to about 20 parched villages.
"The United States chose not to send a representative to the inauguration in keeping with our position that unilateral actions by either party undermine efforts to reach an understanding on this issue," spokeswoman Julie Reside told Reuters news agency.
"We very much want to see this dispute resolved peacefully and fairly and to that end we are continuing to work closely with Israel and Lebanon and the United Nations, the European Union and others in the international community."

U.S. opposes Kurdistan
The United States yesterday assured Turkey of its opposition to an independent Kurdish nation that could result from a breakup of Iraq after military action against Saddam Hussein.
Robert W. Pearson, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, said in a speech that the United States supports the retention of the national boundaries of Iraq, now divided by no-fly zones to protect the Kurdish population in the north and the Shi'ite population in the south.
"Neither we nor any other country has the authority" to approve a Kurdish state, Mr. Pearson told the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
"We have heard Turkey's concerns, and we respect them," he said. "This, of course, includes the continuing threat to Turkey posed by the [terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party] operating in Iraq.
"The dialogue continues, and we deeply appreciate Turkey's willingness to enter such a dialogue as befits two strategic partners."
Gen. Tommy Franks is scheduled to meet Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey's military chief of staff, next week to discuss Turkey's participation in any future campaign against Iraq.
Mr. Pearson said Turkey agrees that Saddam must comply with the U.N. resolutions that he has violated since the cease-fire in the Gulf war in 1991.
"In our conversations, we know that Turkey stands shoulder to shoulder with us and with other democracies in making clear to Baghdad what it must do," he said.

Talks in Bolivia
The State Department's top diplomat for Latin America flew to Bolivia yesterday to urge President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to continue a tough program to eradicate coca leaf crop, the base product for cocaine.
Otto J. Reich, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, is due to meet the new president tomorrow.
The United States is concerned that Mr. Sanchez de Lozada might weaken the program because of domestic pressure from coca farmers, who say they grow the crop to make a tea used to ease altitude sickness in one of South America's highest countries. Bolivia is 12,000 feet above sea level.
Mr. Sanchez de Lozada won a narrow victory in August over his chief rival, Evo Morales, an advocate of coca farmers' rights. Mr. Morales leads the opposition in the Bolivian Congress.

Burns' consultations
The United States is opening a new round of Middle East diplomacy with the dispatch of Assistant Secretary of State William Burns on a two-week, 11-nation tour.
Mr. Burns, head of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, stops first in Paris today for talks with representatives of the European Union, the United Nations and Russia which, along with the United States, make up the so-called Quartet of Middle Eastern mediators.
Beginning tomorrow, he will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, Reuters news agency reported, citing an unidentified State Department source.

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